Making your website mobile-friendly isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessity. With more people accessing the Web via smartphones and tablets these says, any site administrators who haven’t “mobile-equipped” their online real estate are well behind the curve. In 2011, do you really want to miss out on a substantial chunk of traffic just because your site is hard to read on an iPhone?

Of course not. That’s why many sites direct mobile traffic to sub-domains (e.g. “example.com” becomes “mobile.example.com”), a workable solution if you have time to generate new versions of each page from scratch.

Luckily for WordPress users, mobile themes like WPTouch and WordPress Mobile Pack offer a better alternative to mobile sub-domains. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Maintenance

Having a mobile sub-domain requires you to maintain multiple versions of each and every page – a laborious task if you don’t have a large staff.

Mobile themes, on the other hand, simply deliver all of your existing content in a mobile-friendly format. You can maintain your site as usual and rest assured that everything will display properly in mobile browsers.

2. SEO

When other sites link to your content, those links help you rank higher in the search engines. If you have multiple domains, all of which have different permalinks for each page, you forfeit your ability to rank well in the search listings.

Think of it this way: I post an update on my blog and get 10 links. 5 of those links are from desktop users, and they point to the post on my main domain. The other 5 links come from mobile users, all of whom were redirected from my main domain to a dedicated mobile sub-domain. Their links go to the mobile version of the post – the one they pulled up on their phones.

Instead of getting 10 links for my post, I really only got 5 for each version – a situation that leads to lower overall rankings for my content.

With a mobile WordPress theme, however, your content stays in one place. The page you serve to mobile visitors is the same one that exists on your main domain – everyone who links to it is linking to the same page.

3. Sharing

Mobile sub-domains can also cause social media havoc.

Let’s say you tweet a link from your phone and your colleague clicks it on her desktop computer. She’ll get the mobile version of the site that you tweeted – a version that is probably all text, heavily compressed into a tiny column, and devoid of any navigational links to help her explore other corners of your site.

This is not good for the user, and it’s unlikely that she’ll share any of your content with others.

Again, your mobile WordPress theme can save the day here. With no separate link for anyone to share, you don’t risk serving the wrong version of your site to any visitors.

And since several mobile themes are free, there’s little reason to put off “mobilizing” your site any longer. Spend an afternoon setting up a mobile WordPress theme and stop missing out on all that great traffic.

This post was contributed by Adam Green. Adam writes copy for tech companies and stays up to speed on enterprise fraud management software as best he can. Follow him on Twitter @IAmAdamGreen.

The above article was contributed by a member of the WPHacks community. If you are interested in participating, you can find our guidelines for contributing an article here.

  • http://www.mintek.com chris kluis

    Agree to disagree :)

    1. Maintenance. More of a headache? Yes. Is it that bad? No.
    2. SEO. Actually you would be better with a mobile site and canonical than by showing two different users the same URL and different content.
    3. Social. Redirect – back based on browser size or include a URL to the full version at the bottom of the post.

    I tend to love the mobile themes/plugins, but I think there is a time and a place for unique URLs. I am a firm believer that if you are stripping content/design then you should have a unique URL. If you are using a responsive design that changes shape/location/style of content, but leaves it all in place then using the same URL is fine.

    Canonical is your friend. Mobile URLs can also be used in analytics for tracking the affect of mobile on your campaigns.

    All about mobile URLs is not evil.

    • http://www.hillarybost.com Hillary Bost

      I would have to agree with you on this one Chris. They do help and it can be easier to track specific campaigns.

      • http://www.xstudiosinc.com Jeff@ X Studios Web Design

        I think tracking each domain separately will benefit in the long run as more mobile centric devices ways to browse hit the market.

        I can see the benefit of having one domain that serves different content based on browsing device, but it will make segmented SEO approached more difficult.

      • http://www.dailyblogtools.com sai krishna

        you explained very nice tips man i mostly like your quick response in comment section.keep rocking :)

  • http://www.hillarybost.com Hillary Bost

    seo is why I use them they are highly customizable too.

  • http://www.apkpedia.com/ Xcellence

    i Agree with Hillary Bost

    • Plavix

      yeah me too. Because having subdomains will be considered as a individual website.

  • http://fairandroid.com Asho

    I personally love MobilePress than Wp Touch because it is very easy to edit template files in MobilePress… By default mobilepress comes with simple template which loads fast in mobile phones…

  • http://www.cheap-routersuk.com Dean Windass

    WPTouch is a fantastic theme. Amazingly user friendly and can save a lot of time with the right plugins.

  • http://www.systouch.co.uk John

    Have to agree that WPTouch is a fab theme. Best to go with a mobile friendly theme from the start to save yourself from missing out.

  • http://www.hillarybost.com Hillary Bost

    You are right about using wordpress plugin to your advantage, it may take some playing around with them a bit but it is well worth it.

  • Josh Caleb Mayorga

    Interesting and valid points on both sides of the argument. The biggest value I see in using a mobile url is the ability to serve different content, and having the ability to control the html markup, resulting in improved performance, and a better experience for mobile web users.

    Creating a mobile user friendly experience from the same content is possible, and still the way I’ll go for a while though.

    Great post by the way.

    -JCM

  • Pingback: Do you control your site's mobile experience? - Hypertransitory.com

  • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif

    I agree with all of them! :)

  • http://allthingsdemocrat.com/ Doug Marquardt

    Great discussion. Would you have any tips on my scenario? I have a WordPress blog and I could use a plugin to create a mobile version (not in a subdirectory), although I’ve tried several and they all seem to have something wrong with them. But I also have several non-WP pages of various resources, some static and some dynamic mysql pages, that I would like in a mobile version where I’ll have to write new pages. I have a separate header in the wp and non-wp pages so I suppose I could check the device there and serve the non-wp mobile page. Is there a better way?